Just a week ago, the news hit that Brian Baird, the current U.S. Congressman from Washington’s 3rd District, would not be seeking reelection in 2010. Since then, Jon Russell, who announced his candidacy this past June and two other candidates on the Republican side, have been joined by a bevy of newly announced candidates from both parties. In the flurry of media attention that has surrounded this; much attention has been given to things like which candidates fit in best with their party’s strategy versus the opposing party, individual popularity, etc. Unfortunately, little attention has been given to specifics regarding each candidate’s background and what that indicates about the likelihood of their being a true representative of the voters. An exception to this is an article entitled “Russell an Old Timer in an Increasingly Crowded Field”, appearing yesterday in The Chronicle. In this article, the Author, Eric Schwartz, touches on several facets of Russell’s background that should serve to help voters to set Russell apart from the pack, as they consider who is best suited to represent them. With this in mind, I thought it would be useful to add further dimension to the groundwork done by Schwartz.
First of all, Russell is not a Jon-come-lately in this race. He has been in the full-time campaign mode since he announced his candidacy this past June. When he announced his candidacy, Jon said his decision to run was the result of what he was seeing happening to our nation and what he was hearing from like-minded fellow-constituents in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. Furthermore, he said that his decision was one made out of a desire to serve in returning our nation’s course to one of Advancing American Greatness. Obviously, Jon’s decision to run was not a decision that was a politically opportunistic reaction, resulting from an unexpected vacancy.
Prior to Congressman Baird announcing his retirement, it was not uncommon to hear Jon being challenged on the likelihood of him unseating a 12-year incumbent who already had nearly ¾ of a million dollars in his campaign account. Jon’s consistent response was, “I understand how that seems to make sense if you’re just looking for a candidate who you think can out-Career-Politician a Career Politician but that’s not who I am and I think those who have been rising up in groups across our nation, groups like the Tea Party movement, are saying that another Career Politician is not what they want.” It seems to me that looking at all the candidates in this light, especially those who are “…-come-latelys”, is an important consideration to make.
Continuing with the theme of “Career Politician”, I think it’s important to note that, when elected, Jon intends to term-limit himself and to refuse to accept a pension, as a Congressman. It seems that Jon agrees with the celebrity who was recently quoted as saying, “The words ‘career’ and ‘politician’ should never be used together in the same sentence.” Jon says he is open to serving three terms at most. When his time serving in the U.S. Congress is done, he intends to return to living in Southwest Washington full time, sharing life with his Wife and two Daughters and running their business.
For those candidates who are in elected positions and have voting records, I think its important to ask, what is their history with deficit spending? The Washington State Legislature voted to accept ARRA deficit spending “stimulus” money. These are the very actions that have saddled our nation with a 3 trillion dollar deficit that we can't tax or borrow our way out of. And, specifically, it’s made up to 70% of Washington State’s Budget “untouchable” for budget cuts due to “strings” attached to the “stimulus”. By comparison, as a Washougal City Councilman, Jon Russell has consistently voted against acceptance of any “stimulus” money projects in his city, opting instead for saving money to pay for the projects. And, this year Jon sponsored and passed tax cuts for the first time in his city's history. I don’t think that now is the time to send candidates from either party to Washington D.C. unless they are willing to take the hard votes and look beyond the government, as the only source to meeting our nation’s challenges, in order to get us out of this national deficit crisis. My view is that Southwest Washington’s 3rd District needs representation that is committed to job creation in the private sector and budget cutting in government, not more deficit spending economics. Obviously, this is a critical consideration for voters to make.
In addition to serving as a Washougal City Councilman, Jon is owner of Columbia Gorge Medical Center, where jobs have been created in the middle of our nation’s recent recession. Additionally, the business model of this clinic is to partner with local non-profits to better meet under-served needs in the community. After just one year in operation, this business has been so successful that commitments have been made to open a second location in Vancouver. Jon Russell’s track record as an entrepreneur in the small business community dates all the way back to when he ran a Coffee House in a college town. That business, too, was modeled to help meet under-served needs in the community. Obviously, experience in the private sector, as well as experience as an elected official, is an important set-apart to consider in comparing Jon with other candidates.
Finally, I think it’s important to note the different approach Jon Russell has taken with his campaign. It is not the typical approach of seeking the approval of “the party establishment” while taking every opportunity to “shred the opposition”. Jon knows that many are unhappy with the way things are in our nation and yet he understands that, before you can logically invest your support in him, you need to have the opportunity to get to know him as a fellow-citizen, determined to serve in getting our nation back on a course aimed at Advancing American Greatness. With that in mind, he encourages voters to start getting better acquainted with him by coming out to meet him at one of the many Town Halls, Community Events, Home Socials, etc. where he continues to make himself available daily.